Monday, August 13, 2007

Baby dolphin's death raises environmental concerns

A BABY dolphin has been found dead washed up on the Cumbrian coast, prompting concerns from conservation experts.Andy McCormack, general manager of The Brickyard in Carlisle, spotted the beached mammal about a mile south of Allonby and took this pictures of it on his mobile phone.

The creature was only a baby and was smaller than Mr McCormack’s pet dog Ralph, who he was out walking with earlier this week.The discovery is a stark reminder of the fate that befell Marra the Maryport dolphin, who captured the county’s hearts when she became trapped in the town’s harbour and had to be rescued. Sadly, she eventually died last December.

Mark Simmonds, director of science with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, in Wiltshire, explained why the west Cumbrian coast was proving so popular with dolphin visitors.He said the two main UK dolphin populations were in the Moray Firth, Scotland, and Cardigan Bay, Wales, and said it was likely some of the population could have made their way into Cumbrian waters quite easily from their natural habitat.

He said: “The Cumbrian coastline is between the dolphin populations so there is probably some transition going on. What we became aware of when we were out helping with the Marra situation was that there were more bottle nose dolphins out in the Solway Firth.“There are some dolphins living along the Solway coastline but they’ve never been studied. It seems to be an important area and it’s calling out for people to do more work and find out about it.”He advised people to be extremely careful if they found single dolphins swimming in the water for fear of them becoming too tame and then not being able to fend for themselves in the wild.

He added: “It’s really important to never get into the water with a solitary dolphin and don’t drive a boat towards them.“Not only will you hurt them but you will also be breaking the law because dolphins are a very endangered species.”St Bees has been named as the one of the 12 most likely UK places to spot bottle nose dolphins in the latest issue of the BBC Wildlife magazine. If anyone spots a dolphin in distress they can call British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546, 24 hours a day.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"